AN MP has called Colchester Council “crass” and says it should be ashamed of itself for forcing a small business centre to close.

About 40 businesses have been evicted from the Black Barn gift and craft centre in Turkey Cock Lane, Stanway, and have spent the past few days clearing the building.

Colchester Council says it gave the businesses their marching orders because they had been trading on the site for six years without the correct planning permission.

Kevin Wells, 53, who ran a furniture business, said the closure spelled the end of his company and the livelihoods of other leaseholders.

He said: “They weren’t big enough to take on another premises.

I was over there yesterday clearing bits out and three customers turned up and couldn’t believe it.”

The Black Barn had planning permission for the sale of furniture, but most of the businesses there were selling other items.

This led Colchester Council to ordered them out last October, giving them until December 31.

Priti Patel, Tory MP for Stanway, has been campaigning behalf of the businesses.

She said: “It’s very disappointing to see the centre being forced to close, causing uncertainty and distress to those small businesses who use the centre.

“The crass attitude the council has towards local businesses continues to cause misery and holds back local economic growth.

“Colchester Council should be ashamed of itself for forcing this closure.”

However, a council spokesman said its enterprise team and planning officers had offered to help the Black Barn traders to find other premises.

He said: “We provided Black Barn representatives a list of alternative premises to consider.

“Unfortunately, it appears none of these sites was suitable for their needs.

“The council will continue to offer guidance and support for any of the businesses that request it.”